How to Stay Fit While You Are Pregnant
By Erica Peter
Every woman has a different experience when finding out they are expecting. Those two little lines that appear on your pregnancy test could bring a slew of several different emotions. You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the news, and rightfully so! Once you find out that there is a little human growing inside of you, there are a few things that you should take into consideration.
In light of this exciting news, making your health and fitness a priority is definitely a must. Pregnancy is not an excuse to sit on the couch and use your belly to prop up your tub of ice cream. In contrast, it may be the exact thing that can motivate you to change your unhealthy habits. This article will give you the exact tools you need to stay fit and healthy during such an amazing and memorable time in your life.
Why Exercise When you are pregnant?
Whether you have never worked out in your life or you are an experienced gym-goer, exercise is important when you’re expecting and it is possible for you to work out safely while pregnant. Exercise will not only allow for an easier birthing experience AND quicker postpartum recovery time, but it will also benefit your baby as well.
It is vital to have adequate blood circulation flowing through your body and to your baby. Keeping up with cardiovascular exercise will help enable your circulatory system to perform at its best. This allows your baby to get the maximum amount of nutrients delivered right to them via the umbilical cord.
Additionally, building your physical strength will help you combat the aches and pains of carrying the extra weight of your baby, especially once your third trimester hits. Holding on to your existing muscle mass and even building on them during your prenatal stage will benefit you immensely when it comes time to getting rid of your baby weight. The more lean muscle you have on your frame the more calories you burn at rest. In other words, you will be burning calories just sitting around and who wouldn’t want that?
Furthermore, exercise during pregnancy will allow your body to release the proper hormones that are needed to promote better sleep. Sleep is extremely important for your baby and also for you. When your body is in a restorative state of sleep, this is when your muscles repair themselves as well as other important cells and tissues. It takes a lot of work for your body to grow another human and also restore its own function. Always get adequate rest so that you have enough energy to get through your days.
Finally, another benefit of exercising while pregnant is boosting mood-enhancing hormones. Staying positive and reducing stress is critical to the health of your baby. Researchers have found that too much stress can negatively impact your baby’s health, therefore ensuring that you get your daily dose of exercise is essential. Stress can really defeat your adrenal glands and zap your energy. It can cause spikes in stress hormones that store fat and just flat out put you in a miserable mood- Not good!
Are there Risks to Exercising While Pregnant?
As a Personal trainer, I get asked this question quite often. The answer is not surprising. As with any physical activity, there are risks you should be aware of. Nevertheless, just because there are risks does NOT mean you should be scared of exercise while pregnant. Fear is the main reason why women choose to take a sometimes, over-cautious approach to fitness during those 9 months.
The take-away here is, ALWAYS consult a medical doctor or the primary care physician who is looking after you during your pregnancy prior to exercising while carrying your baby. There are certain conditions that do not allow exercise to be possible such as placenta previa, having an incompetent cervix, blood conditions among others. The rule of thumb is to not increase your intensity or workload while carrying your baby.
Tips From a Fitness Trainer
If you did weightlifting before you conceived then most of the time you can continue as long as you do not increase your weights or start a new training program. If you were a runner before you were pregnant, you can continue running as long as you do not decide to start training for the Boston Marathon. Get my drift?
Modifying your workouts will become quite frequent as you graduate each trimester. It is important to refrain from doing any exercises where you would be positioned flat on your back for an extended amount of time. The reason for this is because the extra weight can place strain on your aortic blood vessels which transport essential nutrients and blood to your baby. If these networks are compromised or cut off, this decreases the ability to get to your baby. For example, performing a flat bench press. With that in mind, you could simply modify and do an incline bench press instead to create space within your thoracic cavity.
Keep the Temperature Down
Getting too heated during your workouts can cause faintness, dehydration, nausea, and possibly the risk of organ damage (this is not common). Overheating can also affect your baby’s growth and development during the 1st trimester. To avoid this, ensure that you take breaks when needed, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, and dress appropriately.
What Are the Best Exercises to do while pregnant?
Resistance Training- As mentioned above, building strength and working on building lean muscles can really benefit you. The more muscle you have on your frame the more calories you burn at rest which will help you lose those extra pounds once the baby is born. Big compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, and chest press will burn the most calories, increase your strength and help with overall endurance. By doing these in the gym or at home you will get the biggest bang for your buck. If you really don’t see yourself using weights then you can equally benefit from using resistance bands or even just using your own body weight and increasing the repetitions.
Walking — This form of exercise is easy on your joints, unlike running, and simple to do. Try walking outside instead of on a treadmill. You will get some much-needed Vitamin D and reap the benefits of uneven terrain. Walking outside burns more calories than inside because you need to engage your core muscles to walk uphill and over different terrain. These will activate major leg and core muscles to keep you toned and healthy.
Yoga- Yoga is great for your physical health and mental health. This is why adding yoga to your fitness regimen while pregnant is vital. It is often overlooked but you can burn some serious calories doing yoga and also tap into fat stores after a lengthy session. Working on hip flexibility will do wonders for your delivery and labor once the time comes. Your pelvic girdle shifts as your baby grows and practicing yoga will ensure that your body can handle these shifts without causing you injury. Always start slowly and build up your flexibility.
It is imperative that you always listen to your body. Paying attention to slight aches and pains will let you know when you need to back off from what you are doing and when you can push a little more.
Additionally, seeing a chiropractor who specializes in prenatal care can really help your body as you exercise through your pregnancy. A chiropractor can pick up on important changes in your body early and take action to adjust your body accordingly.
Ultimately, the benefits of exercising while pregnant clearly outweigh the risks. Once you do find out you are expecting, this is actually the perfect time to find an exercise routine that works for you!
About the Author:
“Hi, I’m Erica! I am the writer and founder of The Healthy Girl Hustle. www.healthygirlhustle.com — I am a Fitness Trainer & Health Addict who loves a good cup of coffee! I am a busy mom to 2 toddlers who constantly keep me on my toes. I believe that it’s important for all women to feel in control of their lives. My mission is to make living a healthy lifestyle easier and less overwhelming.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not (necessarily) reflect the views of PregnancyJournal.com. PregnancyJournal.com can in no way whatsoever be held responsible for the content of such views nor can it be held liable for any direct or indirect damage that may arise from such views.
Originally published on PregnancyJournal.com. Permission granted to publish on Medium.com by the Author and PregnancyJournal.com.